The modulation of neural gain facilitates a transition between functional segregation and integration in the brain

Elife. 2018 Jan 29;7:e31130. doi: 10.7554/eLife.31130.


Cognitive function relies on a dynamic, context-sensitive balance between functional integration and segregation in the brain. Previous work has proposed that this balance is mediated by global fluctuations in neural gain by projections from ascending neuromodulatory nuclei. To test this hypothesis in silico, we studied the effects of neural gain on network dynamics in a model of large-scale neuronal dynamics. We found that increases in neural gain directed the network through an abrupt dynamical transition, leading to an integrated network topology that was maximal in frontoparietal 'rich club' regions. This gain-mediated transition was also associated with increased topological complexity, as well as increased variability in time-resolved topological structure, further highlighting the potential computational benefits of the gain-mediated network transition. These results support the hypothesis that neural gain modulation has the computational capacity to mediate the balance between integration and segregation in the brain.

Keywords: BOLD; biophysical Model; excitability; integration; neural gain; neuroscience; none; noradrenaline.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cognition*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neural Networks, Computer*
  • Neurons / physiology*

Grant support

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.